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ser, the Strokhr, and the Little Geyser. The earth seems to be a mere crust of sulphurous deposits, and burnt clay, and rotten trap-rock, and is destitute of vegetation except in a few spots, where patches of grass and moss present a beautiful contrast to the surrounding barrenness. In its quiescenttate the scene was not so striking as I had expected, though the whirling volumes of smoke that filled the air, and the strange sounds that issued from the ground in every direction, filled my mind with strong premonitions of what might take place at any moment. I did not yet relinquish my views in reference to the superiority of the California Geysers; still, I began to feel some misgiving about it when I looked around and saw the vastness of the scale upon which the fixtures were arranged here for hydraulic entertainments. If we could beat Iceland in the beauty of our scenery, it was quite apparent that the advantage lay here in the breadth and extent of the surrounding desolation—the great lavafields, the snow-capped Jokuls, and the distant peaks of Mount Hecla.
We rode directly toward the Great Geyser, which we approached within about fifty yards. Here was the camping-ground-a pleasant little patch of green sod, where the various travelers who had preceded us had pitched their tents. Zoega knew every spot. He had accompanied most of the distinguished gentlemen who had honored the place with their presence, and had something to say in his grave, simple way about each of them. Here stood Lord Dufferin's tent. A lively young gentleman he was; a very nice young man; told some queer stories about the Icelanders; didn't see much of the country, but made a very nice book about what he saw; had a great time at the governor's, and drank every body drunk under the table, etc. Here, close by, the Prince Napoleon pitched his tent~a large tent, very handsomely decorated; room for all his officers; very fine gentleman the prince; had lots of money; drank plenty of Champagne; a fat gentleman, not very tall; had blackish hair, and talked French; didn't see the Great Geyser go up, but saw the Strokhr, etc. Here was Mr. Metcalfe's tent; a queer gentleman, Mr. Metcalfe; rather rough in his dress; wrote a funny book about Iceland; told some hard things on the priests; they didn't like it at all; didn't know what to make of Mr. Metcalfe, etc. Here was Mr. Chambers's camp-a Scotch gentleman; very nice man, plain and sensible; wrote a pamphlet, etc. And here was an old tent-mark, almost rubbed out, where an American gentleman camped about ten years ago; thought his name was Mr. Miles. This traveler also wrote a book, and told some funny stories. “ Was it Pliny Miles ?” I asked.
Yes, sir, that was his name. I was with him all the time.” · Have
his book ?" “Yes, sir, I have his book at home. A very queer gentleman, Mr. Miles; saw a great many things that I didn't see; says he came near getting drowned in a riv
“ And didn't he ?”
“Well, sir, I don't know. I didn't see him when he was near being drowned. You crossed the river, sir, yourself, and know whether it is dangerous."
" Was it the Brúará ?”
“No, sir; one of the other little rivers, about kneedeep.”
Here was food for reflection. Zöega, with his matterof-fact eyes, evidently saw things in an entirely different light from that in which they presented themselves to the enthusiastic tourists who accompanied him. Perhaps he would some time or other be pointing out my tent to some inquisitive visitor, and giving him a running criticism upon my journal of experiences in Iceland. I deemed it judicious, therefore, to explain to him that gentlemen who traveled all the way to Iceland were bound to see something and meet with some thrilling adventures. If they didn't tell of very remarkable things,
nobody would care about reading their books. This was the great art of travel; it was not exactly lying, but putting on colors to give the picture effect.
“For my part, Zoega," said I,“ having no great skill as an artist, and being a very plain, unimaginative man, as you know, I shall confine myself strictly to facts. Perhaps there will be novelty enough in telling the truth to attract attention.”
“ The truth is always the best, sir," replied Zoega, gravely and piously.
“Of course it is, Zoega. This country is sufficiently curious in itself. It does not require the aid of fiction to give it effect. Therefore, should you come across any thing in my narrative which may have escaped your notice, depend upon it I thought it was true-or ought to be.”
Yes, sir; I know you would never lie like some of these gentlemen.”
“Never! never, Zoega! I scorn a lying traveler above all things on earth."
But these digressions, however amusing they were at the time, can scarcely be of much interest to the read
Even after the lapse of several years the marks around the camping-ground were quite fresh. The sod is of very fine texture, and the grass never grows very rank, so that wherever a trench is cut to let off the rain, it remains, with very little alteration, for a great length of time.
On the principle that a sovereign of the United States ought never to rank himself below a prince of any other country, I selected a spot a little above the campingground of his excellency the Prince Napoleon. By the aid of my guide I soon had the tent pitched. It was a small affair-only an upright pole, a few yards of canvas, and four wooden pins. The whole concern did not weigh twenty pounds, and only covered an area of ground about four feet by six. Zöega then took the horses to a pasture up the valley. I amused myself making a few sketches of the surrounding objects, and thinking how strange it was to be here all alone at the Geysers of Iceland. How many of my friends knew where I was ? Not one, perhaps. And should all the Geysers blow up together and boil me on the spot, what would people generally think of it? Or suppose the ground were to give way and swallow me up, what difference would it make in the price of consols or the temperature of the ocean?
When Zoega came back, he said, if I pleased, we would now go to work and cut sods for the Strokhr. It was a favorable time “to see him heave up.” The way to make him do that was to make him sick. Sods always made him sick. They didn't agree with his stomach. Every gentleman who came here made it a point to stir him up. He was called the Strokhr because he churned things that were thrown down his throat; and Strokhr means churn. I was very anxious to see the performance suggested by Zoega, and readily consented to assist him in getting the sods.
The Strokhr lay about a hundred yards from our tent, nearly in a line between the Great and Little Geysers. Externally it presents no very remarkable feature, being nothing more than a hole in the bed of rocks, about five feet in diameter, and slightly funnel-shaped at the orifice. Standing upon the edge, one can see the water boiling up and whirling over about twenty feet below. A hollow, growling noise is heard, varied by an occasional hiss and rush, as if the contents were struggling to get out. It emits hot vapors, and has a slight smell of sulphur; otherwise it maintains rather a peaceful aspect, considering the infernal temper it gets into when disturbed.
Zöega and I worked hard cutting and carrying the sods for nearly half an hour, by which time we had a large pile on the edge of the orifice. Zöega said there was enough. I insisted on getting more.
"Let us give him a dose that he won't forget.” “Oh, sir, nobody ever puts more than that in; it is quite enough.” “No; I
mean to make him deadly sick. Come on, Zöega.”. And at it we went again, cutting the sod, and carrying it over and piling it up in a great heap by the hole. When we had about a ton all ready, I said to Zoega,“Now, Zoega,
and I'll stand here and see how it works." Then Zöega pushed it all over, and it went slapping and dashing down into the steaming shaft. For a little while it whirled about, and surged, and boiled, and tumbled over and over in the depths of the churn with a hollow, swashing noise terribly ominous of what was to come. I peeped over the edge to try if I could detect the first symptoms of the approaching eruption. Zöega walked quietly away about twenty steps, saying he preferred not to be too close. There was a sudden growl and a rumble, a terrible plunging about and swashing of the sods below, and fierce, whirling clouds of steam flew up, almost blinding me as they passed.
“Sir,” said Zöega, gravely, “you had better stand away. It comes up very suddenly when it once starts."
“Don't be afraid, Zöega; I'll keep a sharp look-out for it. You may depend there's not a Geyser in Iceland can catch me when I make a break."
Very well, sir; but I'd advise you to be careful.” Notwithstanding this good counsel, I could not resist the fascination of looking in. There was another tremendous commotion going on—a roar, a whirling over of the sods, and clouds of steam flying up. This time I ran back a few steps. But it was a false alarm. Nothis ing came of it. The heaving mass seemed to be producing the desired effect, however. The Strokhr was evidently getting very sịck. I looked over once more. All below was a rumbling, tumbling black mass, dashing over and over against the sides of the churn. Soon a threatcning roar not to be mistaken startled me.
“Look out, sir !" shouted Zöega; “look out!" Unlike the Frenchman who looked out when he shonld have looked in, I unconsciously looked in when I should have looked out. With a suddenness that astonished me, up shot the sceth